At the end of the year 2014 we begin reviewing all 9th Circuit cases reversed by the Supreme Court during the 2015 calendar year. The end of the calendar year does not coincide with the Supreme Court term which began in October, 2014 and concludes in July, 2015. In January, 2015 the current term will continue. So, we include all the cases in 2014-2015 in the current term.
All the cases decided during the year from January 1, 2014 to January 1, 2015 cited here are in the Blog for further discussion.
Habeas Corpus: The Supreme Court gave the 9th Circuit another harsh lesson on habeas corpus in a 6th Circuit case. (This Circuit is trying to match the 9th Circuit reversal record); Woods v. Donald, 2015 WL 1400852. See the Blog for discussion.
Habeas Corpus: A week before the current term of the Supreme Court had even begun, the Justices reversed the 9th Circuit; Scialabba v. de De Osorio, 134 S.Ct. 2191 (2014). When the current term opened on October 6, 2014 the Court again reversed the 9th Circuit in a unanimous per curiam opinion. Lopez v. Smith, 135 S.Ct. 1 (2014).The overwhelming evidence in Lopez v. Smith cast no doubt he had killed his wife in their house. Police found Smith’s DNA evidence: on the body of the dead victim; on the lethal weapon; on jewelry removed from the house where the murder occurred concealed in the trunk of his car. A criminal evidence expert testified the ransacked house was a staged robbery. The jury rendered a guilty verdict of murder.
At the conclusion of the prosecution case, the prosecutor had obtained a trial court approved jury instruction defining the crime of aiding and abetting in addition to first degree murder instructions already submitted. Defense counsel objected, arguing he had no notice of the change in prosecution theory. All California appellate courts have rejected this argument, as did the trial court and Court of Appeal in this case, on grounds anyone who aids and abets is as guilty as the principle. The 9th Circuit panel on habeas review disagreed and overruled the California courts.
In Lopez v. Smith, and the cases cited above, the 9th Circuit has repeatedly evaded the restrictions imposed on federal habeas corpus jurisdiction mandated by the AntiTerrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA; 28 U.S.C. 2254). Federal law allows habeas relief only “if the state court decision was contrary to, or involved, an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court.” 28 U.S.C. 2254 (d) (1). Parker v. Mathews, 132 S.Ct. 2148 (2012)..
AEDPA also requires federal courts “deference” to state appellate courts in habeas proceedings. The 9th Circuit panel in Lopez cited only their own precedents, and overruled the conviction on grounds the state appellate court opinion “unreasonable.” The Supreme Court reversed, concluding the 9th Circuit had “time and again” misinterpreted the facts and Supreme Court law under AEDPA and ignored deference to state courts.
Lopez v. Smith is a heavily cited per curiam opinion without footnotes, but the dissenting opinion in Deck v. Jenkins lists an embarrassing number of Supreme Court cases reversing the 9th Circuit for failing to comply with AEDPA. In one Supreme Court case a Justice singled out the 9th Circuit for repeated violations of AEDPA committed by panels’ misapplication of habeas corpus precedent. In addition, the 9th Circuit has ignored or evaded almost every state court death penalty case for the last decade on habeas corpus grounds despite California Supreme Court affirmation on the merits and the penalty.
Immigration: De Osorio v Mayorkas, 134 S.Ct. 2191 (2014). The district court had originally upheld a BIA decision interpreting an immigration statute and was affirmed on appeal by the 9th Circuit panel. Rehearing was granted en banc and reversed; 695 F.3d 1003 (9th Cir.) by the usual judges. Cert. to the Supreme Court and the en banc decision reversed. In a tiny one sentence order the 9th Circuit on remand affirmed the district court.
Immigration: Aragon-Salazar v. Holder, 769 F3d 699 (9th Cir. 2014. Petitioner appealed the BIA decision not to allow him to file cancellation of removal because he lied subsequent to his application and ineligible under the relevant statute. The 2-1 majority held the statute ambiguous as to when it was timely. The dissent skewers this reasoning.(Oct. 29, 2014).
Immigration: Kerry v. Din, 718 F.3d 856 (9th Cir 2014). Petitioner was denied a visa based on security concerns. The 2-1 majority decided the court had judicial review of this administrative decision issued by the Secretary of State. Here is the dissent: “The majority opinion acknowledges the doctrine of consular [State Dept.] nonreviewability and the “highly constrained” nature of our judicial review of the denial of a visa, see Bustamante v. Mukasey, 531 F.3d 1059, 1060 (9th Cir.2008), but in practice it fails to accept that doctrine and act within that constraint. Instead, assuming that judicial review must be more robust, it imposes upon the Government an obligation to provide information about a visa denial that, by statute, the government is specifically not required to provide when it denies a visa based on concerns for national security or terrorism. I respectfully dissent.”
Petition for cert granted: 135 S.Ct. 44